A Cloud Security Assessment for an Appliance Manufacturer

An outdoor appliance manufacturer recently implemented Microsoft Office 365 (O365), and while its small IT team led the deployment, it didn’t have the bandwidth or expertise to manage and secure the environment long term. The O365 environment was expanding rapidly without oversight, and the manufacturer lacked visibility into the risks surrounding it. The manufacturer engaged Focal Point to perform a comprehensive cloud security assessment to help them identify security gaps and implement best practices.

The Challenges

1.     No Visibility into Risks

Following implementation, the organization worried about potential security risks around their O365 environment. The company didn’t have a team managing O365, wasn’t sure what best practices should be in place to secure it and lacked visibility into the risks surrounding it.

With devastating data breaches in the news and complex cyber threats emerging every day, the manufacturer was concerned about the vulnerabilities this implementation had created within the organization. Trade secrets related to its unique products could be at risk. Ransomware was also a fear, as an attack could halt operations and hobble the business.

While the organization knew this implementation had introduced new risks and vulnerabilities, it lacked the visibility and the expertise needed to identify and understand them and the skillset to address them.

2.     Lack of Security Expertise

The client’s IT team had implemented O365, but the team was small and lacked security expertise. Standing up O365 without security experts resulted in new risks and vulnerabilities that security professionals could have addressed during the implementation process. But for some mid-sized organizations, building an in-house security team isn’t always an option. Working with a third-party cybersecurity consultant to identify security risks and provide a strategy to address them was the best option for this manufacturer.

3.     Limited Adoption

Following the O365 implementation, some departments adapted to the new tools, like Teams, while others wanted to stick with products they knew and trusted. The company lacked confidence in the security of the O365 environment, and therefore did not require departments to make the move to O365. Primarily, the company was hesitant to store important data in O365 applications when the system may be at risk. Because there was not confidence in the system, the investment in O365 was being wasted.

The Project

The manufacturer’s CFO engaged Focal Point for a cloud security assessment to identify security issues and provide a remediation plan. As a result of this assessment, he hoped to build more confidence in O365, increase usage, and maximize the return on their O365 investment. Focal Point offered a streamlined assessment that was tactical and targeted on the issues and applications the business cared about most, without extraneous overhead – an approach that was well suited to the manufacturer’s tight timeline and budget. In addition, Focal Point’s deliverables provided actionable results. Final reports and roadmaps provided clear remediation steps that the manufacturer’s IT team could execute without deep security expertise.

For this cloud assessment, the Focal Point team used the CIS Microsoft 365 Benchmark to evaluate the client’s environment. Using this framework as a benchmark, they were able to clearly demonstrate where the client aligned with best practices, where there were gaps, and where there were opportunities for improvement.

One of the many benefits of using this CIS framework was that it allowed the client to decide the how they wanted to prioritize security budget following this assessment. This CIS framework offers four different levels of compliance, allowing organizations to tailor investments to the areas that matter most to them.

The Deliverables

Following the assessment, the Focal Point team hosted a series of interactive sessions with the client to discuss findings and workshop recommendations. This provided more insight to the risks and opportunities that were uncovered and allowed the Focal Point team to answer client questions in real time. For an organization without a dedicated security team, these sessions provided an extra layer of context that could help with decision-making down the road.

Following these sessions, Focal Point built a comprehensive final report, which included a full gap analysis. This report examined every issue our team uncovered, provided clear recommendations, and detailed remediation steps. Remediation was documented in a very tactical way, providing the exact steps an IT team member (without deep O365 expertise) would need to take to solve an issue. The report was accompanied by a detailed remediation roadmap, which was designed to help the client prioritize remediation steps.

From kick off to deliverables, this assessment spanned four weeks, providing the client with the quick assessment and detailed insight it needed to secure its O365 environment.

The Results

This cloud security assessment identified 20 key issues within the client’s O365 environment, four of which were deemed high risk. Fortunately, many of these could be resolved in less than 60 seconds through relatively simple configuration changes. Focal Point’s detailed remediation report outlined these steps so the client team could take immediate action.

Following this assessment, the manufacturer felt more confident in the security of its O365 environment. This has enabled the client to get more buy-in from users, resulting in more consistent usage and greater ROI from this investment.

Because Focal Point was able to deliver a streamlined assessment in a short timeframe and provide actionable results, the client has begun to engage them for additional assessments.

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